This holiday season, Netflix dropped its first queer Christmas rom-com, and not only does it make history in that regard, but it also features one of the few queer leads of color in holiday rom-com history.
Starring Michael Urie and Philemon Chambers, the film centers on Urie's Peter as he "convinces his best friend Nick (Chambers) to join him for the holidays and pretend that they're now in a relationship. But when Peter’s mother sets him up on a blind date with her handsome trainer James — the plan goes awry. The film's star-studded cast also features Kathy Najimy, Luke Macfarlane, Jennifer Coolidge, Barry Bostwick and Jennifer Robertson.
On the heels of the film's success, Shadow and Act spoke to Chambers about this monumental moment, what it means, reactions to the movie, his journey in Hollywood so far and more.
"You're having a person of color in a rom-com, but also a person of color that just so happens to be gay in a rom-com," he said. "It speaks to a lot, and I say it all of the time, but this is what I needed when I was a kid. We didn't have these types of representation on TV. For us, we did it. It had to be from a homophobic standpoint, or something had to be wrong, and there's nothing wrong in this film. It is just pure love and joy and it is such a feel-good movie. I feel like we needed this, especially after the pandemic and still dealing with things right now, we need a feel-good moment, but I am still taken aback by everything. I see all of the comments, I get all of the DMs. I see those messages where people are just like, 'I felt seen today. Thank you. I want to let you know how much Nick meant to me. I want to let you know how much Peter meant to me.'"
Aside from the film's premise, Chambers was able to relate to the characters on a deeper level too due to his own personal experiences.
"To be playing a character like this and portraying him with a family that accepts not only their son, but also him, meant a lot to me, because that's my normal day-to-day life," he explained. "A lot of people accept me for who I am and I'm very, very aware that not everybody has that same experience So to portray that on film where people can now see that, and hopefully this brings up those conversations of like, "Okay, why don't I accept them? What is my reasoning? What is the ignorance behind it?" I welcome those questions, but it meant a lot to me to be playing a character that didn't have to deal with homophobia, that didn't have to deal with being diminished in any way.
Though this may be his biggest role to-date, this is something that the actor has been working toward for quite literally years.
"I knew what I wanted to do when I was six,' he said. I had been fighting since six, and to now be starring in something as my feature film debut, and something so monumental, and working with Netflix, working with Chad Hodge, working with Joel Rice, it is honestly one of the most humbling, one of the most moments that I cannot describe to you. I'm super grateful, and I just know if I can do it, anybody can do it. It's one of those things where you really do have to be yourself, believe in yourself and have faith and have hope that things do get better and things can come, because let me tell you, when they do, you are going to have such a blast."
The actor also hopes that this is. just. the beginning and that queer Black holiday rom-coms will make their way to holiday mainstays like Lifetime, Hallmark and more.
"We've had the coming-out stories, we've had the homophobic stories, we've had all of that. I get it. I understand it. That was for a time. We are coming into a different atmosphere. We are coming into a different vibe and the beautiful part is a lot of people are seeing this and are getting affected by it. And what we have to understand too is this generation that's coming up are going to be our next actors, are going to be our next directors, are going to be our next producers, our next executive producers, our next music supervisors. So the fact that they have this, which is so full of positivity, acceptance and unconditional love, the possibilities are endless. It's the first of its kind to not perpetuate this ideology of homophobia, and it is so refreshing and I'm literally I cannot wait to see next year what happens, during the year what happens, in the years to come."
"What people are experiencing is what I wanted all alone,' he continued. Me and Michael [have] been saying this movie is filled with love, unconditional love, acceptance, support. You get the black perspective coming from a black queer standpoint. You get everything that you need and everybody is now getting it, because it's true.
Single All the Way is streaming on Netflix now. Watch the interview below: